12 Free Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: Road To Columbus

Here’s two breaks for the Road To Columbus (fairly easy version) up to speed at 120 Beats Per Minute. I’m going to show you in slow motion exactly what I’m doing in the lessons below. The first break is a standard melody that sounds difficult, but is actually not difficult to play (especially with the left hand) if you can do a little flatpicking already. Even if you don’t know how to flatpick but play guitar, the lessons will give you a ton of info that shows you how to do it.
The second break is an improvisation on the melody including a B Section that Vassar Clements showed me on fiddle that I put to guitar.





How the lessons work…





Main Melody In Slow Motion

Many of you here will be able to pick up a lot of this song just by watching this one video…. but don’t worry if you don’t.. as I break everything down in small sections going down the page. The Beats Per Minute refers to the speed of the metronome- 40 in this case is very very slow and is more difficult to play for most seasoned players than up to speed. Once you know the notes, you should try it at this speed, and then pick up the tempo. FYI… I am counting this off with 4 beats per measure, which are downbeats. Best way to understand what these 4 beats represent is to consider them as the notes that the bass would play. In replacement of the bass, you can hear a kick drum in the background.





Lesson 1

I find the picking pattern of “Down Up Down” the easiest way to play this part up to speed. And you will notice that I don’t deviate at all and continue this pattern even with the pause going between the 4 sections. It is only the last section that I play 3 down strokes in a row (to get out the last 5 notes). You may however find it easier to pick this with different patterns such as “Down Down Up,” which is an economy of motion method for flatpicking. Try both ways to see  which one is easiest for you.





Lesson 2

I was about to re-do this lesson because I noticed I counted it off different than the other lessons. Instead of counting it as “bass note” downbeats (4 beats) which I’ve been doing, I counted it off in “Quarter Notes” which is double the amount (8 beats total per measure). I decided to leave this video alone because many times you will hear people count off songs this way.

For example… 1  2 (whole notes) 1234 (quarter notes)

Play this audio track right below to better understand what I’m talking about.





Lesson 3

You may notice that when I’m playing this slow, for some reason I’m leaving an open D , 4th string) out at the very end. The notes would be E D B A (when I’m playing slow) E D B D A (when I’m playing this faster). I find that playing it up to speed and adding that open D note is easier to play it than leave it blank.





Lesson 4

In the first  video on where I play this up to speed (120), I noticed that I don’t strum through the C chord and just hit the Bb note (3rd G string 3 frets up). You can choose to either strum through hitting the A, Bb, and C) or just the Bb individual note. Personally I prefer the one Bb note due to the cool and unusual place where it comes in (counting off in quarter notes, it would be the 4th beat). In Kenny Baker’s fiddle version, that note comes in on the following downbeat (next measure, 1st beat). Just goes to show how altering just one note in it’s rhythm and exchanging where it comes in can make a nice difference to the entire melody.



Lesson 5

Again, I noticed that I’m counting off the pick-up notes (D, E, G) in Quarter Notes rather than Whole Notes. I’m also strumming through the C7th chord instead of picking only the Bb note… Your choice!





Lesson 6

Please let me know if I explained this crosspicking part okay? Acousticguitarvideos@gmail.com




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